Instagram Story Highlights For Small Businesses

by Klaire Maxwell | Mar 10, 2020

I like to think of Instagram story highlights as a mini landing page. And if you’re not using them to their full potential, your small business could be missing out on important connections. 

If you’re not familiar with Instagram story highlights, they’re the little circles you see at the top of some brands’ pages. They’re stories that they’ve posted in the past but chose to keep active even after 24 hours. This is what ours look like:

The benefit of Instagram story highlights

Story highlights are small but mighty. The main benefit of using highlights is that they allow you to present information to your users before they dive into your content — meaning you can control the story and guide them along their journey of interacting with you.

Instagram gives you a decent amount of data on your audience, so if you’re using it correctly, you know who you should be speaking to with your page. So just like you would with a landing page, give that specific audience the information you want them to know right away — whether that’s helpful information about your brand, how to’s, or general fun brand stuff. 

The key is to give your audience what they need before they even realize they need it. 

Instagram story highlight ideas

Struggling to figure out what belongs in your highlights? Here are some ideas:

  • Step-by-step videos. My favorite brand that does this is Bon Appetit Magazine (@bonappetitmag). In my opinion, successful how-to videos are the ones that add in some text on top of the video in case you’re like me and don’t always want to watch stories with sound. What Bon Appetit does to stand out, though, is add in little bits of their personality throughout. Maybe they’ll make a joke, maybe they’ll tag someone on their team… You never know with them. Here’s one of my favorites of theirs (bonus: you’ll also get a really great cocktail recipe).
  • Question series. You’ve probably used the question feature before, but if you haven’t, it allows you to ask your audience something specific or give them a place to ask questions. REI (@rei) takes it a step further and gives users a place to ask questions about specific topics, then saves the responses to their highlights (see it here). What’s great about this tactic is it gives you real data on what your audience wants to know. It doesn’t require too much work up front, but if you don’t have many engaged followers, this can get tough. See below for another option!
  • Answer FAQ. This is similar to a question series, but it allows you to anticipate your audience’s questions before they have them. Rather than relying on your audience to ask questions, create stories with frequently asked questions. Add one answer per frame, give them places to find more resources, and end it with a question feature asking for any additional questions. Then add it to your highlight. 
  • Meet the products. If you’re an e-commerce brand, your highlights can be a great place to share details about your products, since that’s ultimately what your page is for. Plenty of beauty brands do this really well, but two that stand out are Drunk Elephant (@drunkelephant) and Glossier (@glossier). They both have separate highlights just for specific products. This is a place where brands can share details about products, answer frequently asked questions about them, and even share others’ experiences with them. 
  • Establish your brand. One of my all-time favorite stories I’ve ever seen came from Queer Eye (@queereye), where they asked for people to add to their “positivity jar.” To get the full idea, watch it here. I promise it’ll make you smile. Such a simple idea of asking people to spread some positivity had a snowball effect — the more they shared responses, the more people wanted to share. Soon enough, the jar was overflowing with positivity, and so was my feed. If you can pull off something like this, even if it’s on a much smaller scale, go for it! Maybe you don’t have the audience to make it this big, but you should have at least one highlight that shows off your brand like this does for Queer Eye — maybe it’s pictures of the people who make up your team, views from around your office, or fun sayings that show off your personality.

The best piece of advice I can give you? Be smart and concise. Speaking as both a marketer and an Instagram user, it can be overwhelming to land on a brand’s page and find 10+ highlights. If you have to scroll through tons and tons of highlights, you’re doing it wrong (unless you’re as big as Glossier or Drunk Elephant, of course). Decide on your most important content — what tells your story, establishes your brand, and helps users get the most out of their interaction with you? Start (and stop!) there. 

Have any other highlights you love that I should know about? Have any questions about highlights or social media in general? You can send me a message on LinkedIn or reach out to the team

About the author

 by Klaire Maxwell

Posts by this author